School districts create a plan for safety on buses amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
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DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The start of the school year is just weeks away for students in South Dakota. And a decision on the minds of many families deals with transportation.

Officials with the Dell Rapids and Tri-Valley School Districts say safety is their top priority when it comes to kids taking the school bus amid the pandemic.

Like every year, they are looking for more bus drivers, especially subs.

“With the COVID pandemic right now, it’s not a really highly sought after position. So we like all schools I think are still trying to get more drivers so that we can ensure we have enough,” said Superintendent Summer Schultz with Dell Rapids School District.

At the Tri-Valley School District, their biggest need is for more bus monitors for each route. It’s a position created due to COVID-19.

“We’re talking 28 routes a day. On the regular routes we’re putting a bus monitor on all those routes to check temperatures of students and also ensure they are wearing their masks,” said Superintendent Mike Lodmel, with the Tri-Valley School District.

Both districts say they realize that social distancing is not very feasible to do on a bus.

“If we were going to do that, put one student every other row on our school buses, quite frankly we couldn’t have school. We couldn’t get all our students to school in one day,” said Lodmel.

So to make the rides as safe as possible masks will be mandated. Also, kids will not have as much freedom on where or who they sit next to.

“We are going to work hard to cohort kids on the buses by families,” said Schultz.

Sanitation will also be a top priority.

The biggest change for the Dell Rapids School District is canceling their in-town busing for students who live within one mile of the elementary school.

“That’s difficult for some families. Our biggest issue with the in-town busing is that we are going to cohort all day and then it’s very difficult to put students of all ages and grades on a bus together to go home when we aren’t able to social distance,” said Schultz.

Busing will still be available to those who live in rural areas.

Both school districts also encourage parents to drive their students if possible to help limit the number of kids on each bus.

If you are interested in becoming a bus monitor for the Tri-Valley School District you can call Mike Lodmel at (605) 446-3538 or visit

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